Scottish Daily Mail

I don’t know how I do it

Lorraine Candy


SCIENTISTS think they may have discovered life on one of Jupiter’s moons this week. A professor of space physics told Radio 4 that they were finally close to finding organic life forms in the deep waters of Europa. Hurray for them, I grumbled as I heard the news. If only it were as easy to find things at home after you’ve had children.

It seems they’ve tracked down aliens quicker than I can find a pair of useable swimming goggles, despite purchasing around 11 million pairs over the past decade.

God knows I’ve put in just as much time and effort as a professor of space physics in the hunt for goggles, almost as much effort as I put in to finding the end of the Sellotape after the kids have had it, or tracking down a clean piece of paper without ‘bum’ written on it or an envelope that hasn’t been licked and stuck down for the fun of it.

Not to mention the years spent looking for ‘the other sock’, a stapler with staples, or a pencil without a broken lead.

I suspect it’s probably less frustratin­g hunting for life on the outer edges of the universe than it is looking for anything at home, post children, especially as most of our searching happens under a blanket of weekend tiredness. Because — even though my two youngest children, aged five and nine, now sleep through the night — our two eldest daughters, who are 12 and 14, have now embarked on a Saturday night social life to rival that of pop star Rihanna.

This ten-year progressio­n through after-school play dates, to weekend sleepovers and finally Saturday evening parties, is exhausting.

Just when you think you can happily put your PJs on at 8pm and dunk Rich Tea biscuits into your tea while watching The X Factor, you’re actually off out at 11pm collecting a teen or pre-teen in too-tight clothing from some faraway location.

And, because we were daft enough to keep having children, we can’t sleep in like the young people do the next day.

We’re still heading out with the two smaller Candys for Sunday swimming trips to pools with questionab­le standards of hygiene, which is why my autobiogra­phy would be entitled: ‘Mum, where are my goggles?’.

And this new Saturday social calendar demands an even deeper dive into the bottomless pit of patience that motherhood foists upon you.

But it’s not patience with your offspring that is required (though that obviously comes in handy), it’s patience with other mums and the vast discrepanc­ies in attitude and organisati­onal skills you encounter.

There is a sensitive new etiquette to navigate around asking for, or offering, a lift-share, for a wrongly worded request can provoke a subtle hint you’re simply not pulling your weight on the helping out front.

It’s all very confusing and my normal working mum approach, an attitude of magnificen­t indifferen­ce, just doesn’t cut it. We’ve had six late-night Saturday pick-ups in a row now, which amounts to a tsunami of emails, texts and WhatsApp messages from fellow mums, some of whom drown you in detail while others barely supply a location, let alone drop off or collection times. There’s banter (good) and bossiness (bad) as we are drawn together to devise a complex taxi rota for our daughters.

And if you don’t take your turn when it is expected, you become as unpopular as a shop-bought cake at the PTA summer picnic.

It’s a tricky new parenting hierarchy I am only just starting to understand and given my usual lack of chit-chat on any messaging system, and my tendency towards telling it like it is, I suspect I will take a while to be assimilate­d into this latest evolution of the mum squad. I’m not a traditiona­l ‘joiner-in’ and I have never put a kiss at the end of an email in my life, so it’s a learning curve.

I am inclined to just volunteer Mr Candy for most of the driving as he has a much better sense of direction than me and is a night owl.

In the meantime, I will offer the Jupiter scientists my searching skills.

Oh, hold on a minute, they’re looking for life in the seas of that moon. I can’t do that can I? I don’t have any goggles.

Lorraine Candy is editorin-chief of elle magazine.

Finding life on a new planet is so much easier than finding matching socks!

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